Here at the Chicago Journal, we've long been trying to tell you that Mayor Lori Lightfoot's (and others) alarming lack of leadership and continued victimization is actively damaging this city's almost irreparably damaged reputation, we've long been trying to tell you that Mayor Lori Lightlost's (and others) demonstrated behavior has been laughably incompetent, and we've long been trying to tell you that Mayor Lori Leadfoot (and others) has little clue what she's doing and that she and others are driving this town closer and closer toward the metaphorical cliff..
So last Tuesday, after it was reported by several members of local media that Mayor Lori Lightfoot would only be granting 1-on-1 interviews to black or brown journalists, we didn't count ourselves among the surprised.
NBC5 Chicago political reporter Mary Ann Ahern was the first to note the policy that was quickly confirmed by WTTW's Paris Schutz and Heather Cherone.:
On Wednesday morning, the Mayor and her office's official Twitter account confirmed the new stance, saying:
I ran to break up the status quo that was failing so many. That isn't just in City Hall.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
It's a shame that in 2021, the City Hall press corps is overwhelmingly White in a city where more than half of the city identifies as Black, Latino, AAPI or Native American.
This is exactly why I'm being intentional about prioritizing media requests from POC reporters on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of my inauguration as mayor of this great city.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
We must be intentional about doing better. I believed that when running for office. I stand on this belief now. It’s time for the newsrooms to do better and build teams that reflect the make-up of our city.— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 19, 2021
And finally, on Thursday, Mayor Lightfoot gave a press conference defending the policy with yet another display of political gobbledygook that makes the postmodernist absurdity that consumed 20th Century Literature movement hacks seem as simple as a child's knock-knock joke but has become all too familiar to the reality of living in our modern times.
Jumping the Shark
According to Wikipedia, the Bible of our time, here is the explanation for what it means to "jump the shark":
- Jumping the shark is an idiom used to describe the moment of a misguided attempt at generating new publicity for something once, but no longer, widely popular; the attempt serves instead to highlight the irrelevance of what it intends to promote.
- The idiom "jumping the shark" is pejorative, most commonly used in reference to unsuccessful gimmicks for promoting something. It is similar to "passed its peak", but it more specifically suggests an unwillingness to acknowledge the fact. Originally, the phrase was used to describe an episode of a television comedy with a gimmick or unlikely occurrence desperately attempting to keep viewers' interest. Moments labeled as "jumping the shark" are considered indications that writers have exhausted their focus, that the show has strayed irretrievably from an older and better formula, or that the series as a whole is declining in quality.
- The usage of "jump the shark" has subsequently broadened beyond television, indicating the moment when a brand, design, franchise, or creative effort's evolution declines, or when it changes notably in style into something unwelcome.
Pick and choose one or all three, we could not have described the Lightfoot administration's actions of the last week any better.
Not long after the nearly immediate local, national, and international backlash in the press, Lightfoot's administration quickly improvised that this new policy was merely a brief experiment in social justice to celebrate her two years in office and to outline just how much Lori Lightfoot cares about...that.
No one really believed that, of course, and the truth is, the two year mark is about when all politicians need to start campaigning for the next election and, well, since she took office, Mayor Lightfoot doesn't really have any significant accomplishments to hang her hat on.
In some fairness, the Mayor has had to deal with the unique challenges of COVID-19 but city violence continues to climb, climb, climb, and her police department is close to open revolt. Some estimates show 40% of businesses closed by her and Governor Pritzker's lockdown policies will remain closed forever. Her negotiation with the Chicago Teacher's Union almost miraculously left both sides, the taxpayers and the educators, bitter and feeling as if she mishandled it or downright bungled and botched it altogether. She has all but zero respect from the various cliques in her City Council, which we'd actually find admirable if she had personally pushed through and codified anything worthwile. Residents view her continued attempts to play the tough-talkin' and hard-walkin' BOSS as the theater performance everyone can see through that it is while, at the same time, residents view her continued attempts at actual theater in the form of her public announcements as the embarrassing cringefests they are.
So she played the race card.
And why not? It works and no one in this town seems to care. Play it early or play it late, bluff on the flop or bluff on the river, there appears to be no effect on Chicago voters either way. There's always money in the banana stand, as they say.
Nevermind that at any point during her tenure Mayor Lightfoot could have highlighted or noted particular work by black or brown reporters. Nevermind that at any point during her tenure Mayor Lightfoot could have, you know, just granted access or answered the questions of any black or brown reporter at any of the small, independent outlets and just given them an opportunity whenever she pleased. Nevermind that at literally any point during her tenure Mayor Lightfoot could have called any black or brown reporters and said something akin to, "Hello, black or brown person! I think you're doing a swell job, a real fine job, and I would like to sit down with you for an exclusive interview!"
No, she could not have possibly done anything like that whenever she wanted. What do you think she is, the Mayor or somethin'?
No, she could not have possibly done that.
And nevermind that this little media relations stunt is the political equivalent of pinning her car's cruise control at 60 miles per hour in the left lane on the Eisenhower Expressway and smirking as cars pile up behind her. Nevermind that attempting to pass off this brand of nonsense identity politics fad as some grand gesture when in reality it's something that takes absolutely zero energy or effort and is actually regressive toward any type of cause any group wants to pretend resembles any type of grand conceptual principle like justice and should be and in a sane world would be borderline insulting to the grand narrative of civil rights and civil merit and civil opportunities for black and brown people. Nevermind that a political stunt of this kind is genuinely insulting to black, brown, white, asian, and all other people and should be and in a sane world would be so utterly condescending to black or brown people let alone any sane white person that it should or would immediately disqualify a person from holding public office.
Blah blah blah...
Hey, this is politics, baby! Politics is a game. The game. The game of games. And in politics, especially Chicago politics, there is nothing new. This is the home of American political gamesmanship.
Are we gonna pretend this is new? That we don't see this for what it is?
Nah, my readers are too smart for the cheap trick.
No One Will Care If You Don't
Of course, there were some outlets and journalists and political players in this town who received this as fantastic, lovely news and they were eager to jump to the Mayor's defense because this is the approach they'd been hoping for the whole time.
What do you want me to do? Play the game? Give this blatant political stunt even more attention than it's already received? Pretend I'm personally insulted by such low-class political posturing? Want me to call Lori and those who agree with her a bunch of big, fat, hypocritical, racist phonies?
Mayor Lori Lightfoot's not a racist. Calling her a racist or whatever other -ist gives her yet another arbitrary label to hide behind.
I could call her dumb. Want me to call her dumb? Want me to say that this was one of the clumsiest and most unnecessary local politician stunts I can remember? Want me to call every person in her public relations team who didn't walk into her office and drop their resignations on her desk even dumber? Want me to outline how, if I was in charge of any private firm and they put their resume on my desk after working in the Lightfoot administration that I'd laugh at them and call them unemployable? Want me to say she's the political equivalent of the freshman girl in your high school class who couldn't sing, couldn't dance, and couldn't deliver a line with the right emotion even if the musical was written about her but still thought she deserved the lead? Want me to say she's the political equivalent of your high school buddy who rode the bench all four years but still thinks that if he was the starter your school would have won state and he reminds you all night at the townie bar? Want me to say she's the political equivalent of a guy ranting and raving and barking at the moon as he types away on a small, general interest, digital publication focused on the political and cultural issues of the city of Chicago and the surrounding metro area?
Wait, scratch that last one.
Nah. Sure, it might be fun to come up with all sorts of metaphors for her ineptitude and incapacity for self-reflection but, these days, if I were to do that, all that will do is swing back around on me. Because, surely, I simply must be jealous of all of Lori Lightfoot's strong, black, independent, lesbian, woman success?
So I won't do that.
Why So Surprised?
And who am I kidding?
She did win. She's the Mayor. What can I possibly criticize?
It's hard to be upset with Lori Lightfoot. This little "change" in policy sent the Chicago social media world into a tizzy but, here at the Chicago Journal, we don't know why they were so surprised?
In May of 2018, in her very first interview with the Chicago Sun-Times after she announced she was running for Mayor, she joked about being a political "triple-threat" as a black, lesbian, woman. And, it turns out, she is a black, lesbian, woman!
How can anyone possibly compete with that?
In that same interview, she also said:
“There’s an us-vs.-them style of governance. Listening to some people, not listening to others"...
“If the mayor doesn’t have the capacity or the vision to bring people together, we’re never gonna be able to address big challenges like the tax burden on low-and middle-income people that is driving people out of the city"...
In the day one interview of her candidacy, while separating her persona, her psyche, into 3 divisional categories she tried to sell that she isn't a divider.
Go ahead and read it for yourself. It's all there.
People believed her.
And here we are.
Sure, no matter how hard her administration and campaign try to disguise and shield this nonsense under buzzword progressivism this policy is entirely racist by definition. And sure, Lori Lightfoot and her advisors have turned themselves into a laughable caricature of leadership, the political leadership equivalent of a group of teenagers buying cheap formalwear off the JCPenney's clearance rack for their 8th grade dinner dance where they and other teenagers pretend to know what formal dates are but they're really just lost and confused kids trying to figure out what the real world is and understand all the hormones raging through them.
No, despite all this failure and incompetence, it really is hard to be upset with Lori Lightfoot. Lori Lightfoot told you who she was. In her very first interview, she showed you she was more than willing to play the thinly veiled race hustle caricature paired with the strange version of Feminism 7.5.3 or whatever malware version "Feminism" is on now.
She truly is the triple-threat. She was not hiding it.
So why are you so surprised?
Granted, was your only other option Toni Preckwinkle? Who's arguably a worse ideologue? Yes. Sure. But it was the people of this collective city who pit those two wannabe bosses against each other and forced themselves into the choice.
It was this city that put itself into this position.
Oh well, I guess.
We're just blessed to be living in Lori Lightfoot's adopted city with her in charge. All we have left to do now is be thankful for Lori Lightfoot. All we have left to do now is wait and be hopeful that one day she may call upon us. If, someday, we will be blessed by her grace.
It sure is oh such a lovely time to live in the city of Chicago and the greater United States with Lori Lightfoot and people like Lori Lightfoot in command of the political discourse. Truly, what a time to be alive...
This is what Chicago voted for, I guess.
This is what Chicago gets.
Notes & References
“Opinion: There Are Only Victims Here.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, April 29, 2021. https://www.chicagojournal.com/opinion-there-are-only-victims-here/. ↩︎
“Opinion: Dude, Where's My Car?” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, March 15, 2021. https://www.chicagojournal.com/opinion-dude-wheres-my-car/. ↩︎ ↩︎
“Opinion: Lori Lightfoot Is Losing the Plot.” Chicago Journal. Chicago Journal, July 25, 2020. https://www.chicagojournal.com/lori-lightfoot-is-losing-the-plot/. ↩︎
“Jumping the Shark.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, May 18, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_the_shark?oldformat=true. ↩︎
Spielman, Fran. “Lightfoot Condemns Emanuel's 'Us-vs.-Them' Style of Government.” Times. Chicago Sun-Times, May 9, 2018. https://chicago.suntimes.com/2018/5/9/18339361/lightfoot-condemns-emanuel-s-us-vs-them-style-of-government. ↩︎
I hope that's what they call the dark, gritty movie they inevitable make about her illustrious tenure. ↩︎